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Jon L. Breen best stories are loving recreations of Van Dine and Ellery Queen. Breen is remarkably good at conveying the "feel" of these authors - although it is a parody, "The Lithuanian Eraser Mystery" (EQMM March 1969 and EQ's Eyes of Mystery, 1971) recaptures all of the excitement of reading the stories themselves. During the theater season of 1968 E. Larry Cune returns to New York's Greek Theater, scene of the prior triumph when he solved the murder of the asthmatic Mr.Anagopolous -- a case known as "The Greek Coughin' Mystery" E.Larry's companion is Nora Redcap, and we are also introduced to Inspector Cune and Sergeant Healey. 

Breen did this once over in "C.I.A. Cune's Investigatory Archives. PLAGARISM DEPARTEMENT: The Idea Man"
(The Queen Canon Bibliophile Volume 1 Nr.4 1969) and twice in EQMM "The Swedish Boot Mystery" (EQMM Nov 1973) and "The Adventure of the Disorientated Detective" (EQMM Sep 1976) all with variations on the "dying message".

"Open Letter to Survivors" by Francis M.Nevins (EQMM, N°342, May 1972) starts off with a line from Ten Days' Wonder (Chapter 10) : "... There was the case of Adelina Monquieux, his remarkable solution of which cannot be revealed before 1972 by agreement with that curious lady's executors..." Nevins takes it from here in this 1972 story about a unnamed "big whodunit writer who's cleaned up umpteen cases for the New York force" who came to Adelina Monquieux's home. Adelina's will stipulates that her three identical looking sons Xavier, Yves & Zachary will get half a million dollars plus the income from another half a million in a trust. Her niece Marie get a few hundred thousands. The remaining twenty millions will go to charity and of course Adelina gets murdered! The name of the sleuth is never mentioned but is obvious.

Nils Hardin publisher and editor of the fanzine Xenophile published a special Ellery Queen-edition in June 1975. In it he tried his hand at a mystery story "The Ghana Word Mystery" by L.Ray Quaine, surely a word play since, aside from the title and two unreadable lines, two blank pages appeared...

"Whodunit?" (1976) (Jean Paul Satire aka Peter David & Myra "Emjay" Kasman) is a parody and crossover between Star Trek (the original series) and Hutton's Ellery Queen. In the TV show of Ellery Queen, starring Jim Hutton. James T. Kirk is found murdered (burnt to death by a phaser and margarine!) in his quarters, leaving only the dying message Uhu and Ellery, inspector Queen and Velie have to find the murderer among the crew of the USS Enterprise! The setting is bizarre, but it is definitely written as an "episode" of the Ellery Queen TV show, complete with the story beginning with several dialogue cuts featuring all the suspects and a Challenge to the "Viewer" (?)! Near the end, the story becomes more relient on Star Trek-fandomania Entertaining but weird. (Ho-Ling Wong)

Detective Comics No. 459 - May 1976 On the cover one can clearly make out Alfred Pennyworth, the police, Batman unmasking, and Elliot Quinn's corpse. (Art: J.L.Garcia Lopez - Editing Julius Schwartz)Marty Pasko wrote the script for a 12 page Batman-comic story called "A Clue Before Dying" (Detective Comics N°. 459 - May 1976). Batman tries to find the man who killed mystery writer Elliot Quinn, and who may be the same man who killed an architect in Quinn's home years ago. Not only an homage to Queen but in the story also "a" Lt. Dannay appeared!
Again we take a sidestep into the realm of pop music. A little more known than our previous examples is the 1977 Tavares hit single "Whodunit" written by K.St.Louis and F.Perren:
  "... She went dancin' in the dark, somebody stole her heart
Ellery Queen if you're so keen
   Won't you help me find my sweet thing (Yeah, yeah)..."

In 1997 a 1977 Kyotaro Nishimura story was translated into French. Nishimura was born in 1930 in Tokyo and belongs to the second generation of Japanese detective writers. Together with Matsumoto Seicho and Akagawa Jiro he is one of the most popular writers in his country.

What would happen if Maigret, Ellery Queen and Hercule Poirot met in Tokyo?

What would happen if Maigret, Ellery Queen and Hercule Poirot met in Tokyo? Their rich host certainly seems to know. Solely for his pleasure to see his favorite detectives at work. One other old Japanese detective is present: Kogoro Akechi, the hero in the books of Edogawa Rampo.
The book confronts the techniques of each of the master detectives with the Japanese culture. Two years before this Tokyo gathering the city was hit by a spectacular theft. 300 million yen was mysteriously stolen without any trace. Following a few clues and using the outline of the psychological profile of the thief, M Sato, an old millionaire, decides to re-enact the whole heist under the noses of his four guests. He sets out to find a
guinea pig who fits the psychological profile and sets out to let him steal 300 million yen of his own A  Brazilian edition O Grande Desafio French version is obtainable called Les grands detectives n'ont pas froid aux yeuxmoney. His sole purpose being to find a trace of the first thief by following the facts and actions of his guinea pig. The investigations of our four detectives lead to an extraordinary finale. The story is not widely translated but a French version is obtainable called Les grands detectives n'ont pas froid aux yeux as is a  Brazilian edition O Grande Desafio
(1992). The original 1977 book is titled Meitantei nanka kowakunai (Those famous detectives aren't afraid) and is the first in a series of four all of which have Queen, Maigret, Poirot and Akechi in them. The second part is Meitantei ga Oosugiru (Too Much Detectives), the third Meitantei mo raku janai (Even famous detectives have troubles) and lastly in 1983 Meitantei ni kanpai (Cheers to the Famous Detectives).

When researching his 1981 The Great Detectives Julian Symons not only had the privilege of meeting Fred in Larchmont. He was able to put forward an interesting theory that there were in fact two Ellery's -- the earlier one with the pince-nez and the later one post-
Halfway House. He even constructed an interesting theory that the earlier Ellery was, in fact, Ellery's younger brother "Dan". Fred thought the theory was "inventive" but stated that Julian underestimated the way people change and even went as far as saying the theory was unconvincing. Julian included a pastiche "Dan and the Fair Sabrina" a story about a missing statuette called "Sabrina".

The Further Misadventures of Ellery Queen edited by two West 87th Irregulars Josh Pachter &‎ Dale C. Andrews. Order at Wildside Press by clicking here...

It's September 1982 when we see "The Adventure of the
Logical Successor" by J.Randolph Cox appear in Volume 32, Number 3 of The Baker Street Journal - An Irregular Quarterly of Sherlockiana. This edition of NY Baker Street Irregulars has Ellery Queen, in 1919 whilst studying at Harvard, visiting 'the Great Detective'. "On Opening the door I saw a young man dressed in tweeds and carrying a stout walking-stick. He was fully six feet in height, spare and square shouldered, and not unathletic. His eyes were those of a thinker, silver-grey in color. The one aspect of attire which seemed out of place was the pair of pince-nez eyeglasses, the lenses of which he was engaged in polishing. They were an incongruity on such an athletic figure. ...".  And it has Ellery stating: "... I've read your accounts of Mr. Holmes's cases since I was a boy. My aunt brought me a copy of your Adventures of Sherlock Holmes when I was sick" and "In fact, it was probably that book that made me want to become a writer." Which of course point more in Dannay's direction than Ellery as a whole. It isn't a mystery story but reveals some of Sherlock's thoughts on Ellery Queen's future ("...both of his chose careers").

Michio Tsuzuki
's "Jiraiya in Ginza" (1982) is set in 1936 when Ellery visits Japan. When sightseeing in Ginza (Tokyo), “surprisingly”, a murder takes place. Not only was the victim's back tattooed with a picture of Jiraiya (a fictional thief and wizard) but he also left a dying message… (Michio Tsuzuki is the first editor-in-chief of the Japanese EQMM)

Truly a pity that some of these stories are as good as unobtainable... Jon Breen describes "The Persian Fez Mystery" or "The Tragedy of Q" by Joe R. Christopher (1983) as one of the cleverest send-ups of the Queen style. Found in 30 copy(!) chapbook Queen's Books Investigated or Queen is in the Accounting House it reveals that Elroy Queep "..only in his novels solved the cases before the police, in real life his suggestions were always wrong..."


                    Manfred B. Lee and Fred Dannay in a drawing by Aya Fukushima (Boon Fukushima) a Japanese freelance illustrator and textile designer who surprised us with this rendition of famous photograph. Click the picture for his website (Picture courtesy of Aya Fukishima)
Above: Manfred B. Lee and Fred Dannay in a drawing by Aya Fukushima (Boon Fukushima) a Japanese freelance illustrator and textile designer who surprised us with this rendition of famous photograph. Click on the artist name below for his website (Picture courtesy of Aya Fukishima).

The admiration for the Ellery Queen works in Japan is unsurpassed. No small wonder several examples are found in this section. In Yuki Misshitsu, Snow Locked Room, (1989) by Rintaro Norizuki, police superintendant Norizuki Sadao is invited by, as it turns out, a female blackmailer to her guesthouse in the middle of winter. She's found hanged in a separate building on the premises. Local police treat it as an apparent suicide since the snow is trackless and the only key is inside the building itself. Convinced of foul play Sadao calls in the help of his son Rintarou Norizuki (same name as author!). There also a Norizuki volume called The Adventures of Norizuki Rintarou.... More an homage than pastiche, but close enough. (Nigel Holmes, Snow Locked Room

As is the case with Arisugawa Arisu. As with Queen, the main character is a mystery writer with the same name as the author. (Arisugawa was born Uehara Masahide, but based his pen name on Japanese version of “Alice” out of his love for Alice in Wonderland as well as the 1970s rock star Alice Cooper. Unlike Queen, the real hero is not the fictional Arisugawa, rather it’s his best friend, the brilliant and sometimes ill-tempered criminologist Himura Hideo. The fictional Arisugawa chronicles Himura's cases, making their relationship  more like that of Watson and Holmes. Arisugawa works many of the tropes of classic detection into his stories, including locked rooms, iron-clad alibis, unexpected motives, and clever methods of poisoning.  Arisugawa shows his affection for Ellery Queen in the titles of his stories, including h
is first novel called Moonlight Game, The Tragedy of Y '88,
(1989) and some of his books, novelettes and short stories:
"The Russian Tea Puzzle"
(ss, 1994),
The Swedish House Mystery (novel, 1995),
"The Brazilian Butterfly Mystery" (ss, 1996),
"The English Garden Mystery" (ss, 1997),
"The Persian Cat Mystery" (ss, 1999),
The Malayan Railway Mystery (novel, 2002),
"The Swiss Watch Mystery" (novellete, 2003),
"The Morocco Crystal Mystery" (ss, 2005),
The Indian Club Mystery (novel, 2018),"and
"The Canadian Coin Mystery" (ss, 2019)

(Steven Steinbock, Wikipedia, Nigel Holmes, Death in Nara by the Sea)

 Steven Steinbock and Arisugawa Arisu (Alice) in Osaka, Japan in March 2020 - Photo courtesy of Steven Steinbock 
Above: Steven Steinbock and Arisugawa Arisu (Alice) in Osaka, Japan in March 2020 - Photo courtesy of Steven Steinbock

The 70th anniversary edition of EQMM had two pastiches . Edward D.Hoch's "The Circle of Ink"
(EQMM, Sep 1999) placed Ellery and his married father (to Jesse March 2018 saw the release of "The Misadventures of Ellery Queen" anthology by Wildside Press. Most of the stories it contains were first published in EQMM. So EQMM wanted to celebrate the book’s publication and decided to have one of the stories recorded for this podcast series. Here is Darcy Bearman, Dell Magazines’ manager for social-media marketing, reading “The Gilbert and Sullivan Clue” by Jon L. Breen, first published in EQMM September/October 1999.Sherwood) in a University where a murderer left an ink circle on the hands of his victims. Jon L.Breen's "The Gilbert and Sullivan Clue" lets Ellery deal with Y2K. (Click on Podcast icon to enjoy!...)

Again Edward Hoch had Ellery to revisit Wrightsville in "The Wrightsville Carnival" (EQMM Sep/Oct 2005). In the same issue we also find Josh Pachter and Jon.L.Breen's  "The German Cologne Mystery" subtitled an Ellery Queen parody it had Inspector Wretched Breen brake down the unlocked door of the fast-declining Hotel Madrid's room 521. In response to a phone call from his son, celebrated mystery writer and accomplished amateur detective Celery Breen.

"The Japanese Armor Mystery" (
日本木製鎧甲之謎 ,2005) by Ma Tian a Chinese New Orthodox story in which Queen has to find the answer to a few seemingly simple questions: Why kill an elderly man already on his deathbed, and why the suspect was found dead wearing a wooden facsimile of a Samurai suit of armor? Steven Steinbock translated this short story and it will be included in The Further Misadventures of Ellery Queen (2020).

Japanese Kazuo Miyamoto made his writing debut using the pen name Kaoru Kitamura. He is considered a pioneer of  the "everyday mystery". Initially, because the unnamed first-person protagonist of his early works "The Japanese Nickel Mystery" by Kaoru Kitamura, reissue. Publisher: Tokyo Somoto-sha (April 20, 2009)"The Japanese Nickel Mystery" by Kaoru Kitamura, 2005 Tankobon Hardcoverwas a female college student, and the name Kaoru is gender ambiguous, it was widely speculated that Kitamura was female. This speculation persisted until he revealed his identity upon accepting the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1991. In itself a tribute to EQ. He didn't leave it at that... in 2005 he published a full fledged pastiche called The Japanese Nickel Mystery. Ellery Queen visits Japan at the invitation of a publisher and mystery writer, and gets sidetracked by infant killing incidents in Tokyo. The story includes a man who could change a thousand-yen bill into twenty coins of fifty yen and has our detective pointing out a relationship with a previous case.

(continued here...)


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